Evolution of an idea

My idea started simply: Build a mountain of paper.
Digital Rendering of Paper Mountain at Elder Gallery
As a painter, my work is basically two-dimensional. As a painter concerned with the outdoor experience, the flat surface of a painting could be considered limited. A bit like looking through a window instead of being outside in a landscape. I wanted to make an immersive experience, something bigger than me or anyone else. Something evocative of the outdoors, specifically being in the presence of a mountain. I often think of the sculptor Richard Serra’s work, gently curved huge steel walls. Standing near these sculptures, one gets a strong  feeling of being in the presence of something much larger than we are as humans, something that looms over us in a physical sense and evokes standing near a mountain or in a crevasse – something approaching the sublime.
So I planned to build a mountain using paper because paper is the most basic element we use as artists. I hoped that it’s delicate feel would help convey the fragility of our environment and that it would contrast with the large scale of the mountain.
I first thought I would stack recycled paper in 1-ton bales and retain the mountain shape using wire – the same kind of wire used on rock faces on the side of roads to prevent rock falls. It turns out recycled paper smells terrible, so I ruled that out. I thought about using recycled plastic, but decided it would end up looking like piles of trash and would be too oppressive in a gallery setting.
a concept drawing
I then thought of making a mountain form with wire and lumber covered with paper. When I went to Elder Gallery to take photos and measurements, I noticed that there were metal beams along the ceiling. Rather than building my mountain on the ground, I could hang it from the ceiling! The mountain could be suspended. I could make wire and folded paper sandwiches so that each piece holds its shape, and they would all be hung from the ceiling like a sort of dense mobile.
To try this out, I built a smaller version of the mountain in my studio. I attached chicken wire to grey paper and molded each piece into what looked like a large rock. I hung all the pieces from the ceiling. It looked terrible. It looked like exactly what it was: paper with chicken wire taped to it. I want my mountain to be transcendent, to be more than the sum of its parts. I want my mountain to inspire, to make people dream, to be poetic. This was not it. Back to the drawing board.
When I had originally conceived of the project, I thought about using paper folding techniques so the piece would be elegant in its finished form. I wondered if there were mathematical concepts that could generate folds to look like rock formations. I decided I wanted my piece to feel more organic though, and initially decided against paper folding. After mocking up the mountain using the paper and wire sandwich though, I reconsidered the paper folding. I remembered all the time I’d spent folding paper as a child.
Paper Crane Drawing, pencil on paper, 2018
Paper folding is something that I’ve always returned to even as an adult – it’s meditative and it’s like magic – making three dimensional objects with a sequence of folds. I remembered the story of the 1000 cranes, that folding 1000 cranes would bring you luck. There are other stories of the 1000 cranes involving kindness and peace and giving. I decided I’d try to hang the cranes in a mountain formation that would touch the ground. The mountain would be made of a dense flock of birds. The companion project to the Paper Mountain is a project involving images of skies, so birds were fitting.
I went to work finding the right paper. It had to be big because the area of the mountain would be thirty feet long, ten feet wide, and thirteen feet at its highest point. The paper had to be the right weight. Too light and it would collapse under its own weight. Two heavy, and it wouldn’t fold correctly. After weeks of folding cranes using all weights and sizes of paper, I found a drawing paper that worked well enough. Each sheet must be cut to an 18×18 inch square. The paper is thick enough that as folds are added and its structure gets more rigid, it fights back a little. But I found ways to effectively fold it so the folds are crisp. And with its weight, it holds a good shape.
Paper Cranes In My Studio
Over the course of a few days, I hung each bird using fishing line from my studio ceiling, in the dense flock I’d imagined in my mind’s eye. I started at the top and realized that I should rather start from the bottom to avoid getting birds tangled in fishing line. I started too densely and then left more space in between them. When the small mountain was finished, it felt right. I calculated that I would need to fold 1200 birds to make the mountain as large as I planned. If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s taking large projects and breaking them down into smaller chunks. So every day, without fail, I’m folding birds.

To learn more about Paper Mountain, visit the project page.

Folding a crane

A Small Token for World Kindness Day

I’ve been folding paper since I was a child. It has always been a mindful activity that brings me peace. Today is world kindness day, so I want to share peace and kindness with you as I fold this crane.

My heart breaks each time I hear the news these days, and as an artist, we sometimes question the validity of what we do in times of crisis. But after years of thinking about this, I know that what artists do is essential to humankind. We open up conversations and connections between people who may never meet. And today in a small quiet way, I am sending peace, love, and kindness to the world. Paper folding is a prayer for peace.

Why I love the outdoors

I am obsessed with the outdoors. From a career in the outdoor industry for over a decade to making artwork that is a love letter to nature, my experience outside feeds my soul and my art. The best possible scenario for me is if after looking at my artwork, someone is reminded of the power of nature and is motivated to get outside and feel connected to the earth. If someone can share this experience with another person, that is the absolute BEST.

My newest project PAPER MOUNTAIN & SKY PROJECT creates an immersive outdoor experience. I believe that in an increasingly digital world, it is vital to go outside. My hope is that this installation will encourage people to commune with nature and experience the world directly. This project will give people the opportunity to dream and to experience joy as they share the project with friends and family. I’d love for you to share in this experience too! Click here to find out how.

Paper Mountain & the Sky Project

From now until March 2019, I am working on a project for Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art in Charlotte, NC.

This project has two parts, a very large paper mountain and a video projection of skies.

The idea behind this is to create an experience that evokes the outdoor environment. As a painter, my work is about the intersection of the outdoor experience and art. Because painting is inherently a two dimensional experience, this installation is a way to create a more immersive experience for viewers.

I’m looking for partners to help cover the costs of the project. There are the material and equipment costs to build the mountain and to create the sky project, staff to assist with the building of the mountain, and all the time and work I am doing between now and March to make the project successfully come to life.

To learn more about the project, please visit www.jessicasingerman.com/papermountain

On the website, find out more about the project, what it’s about, why it’s important, and different levels of support. I appreciate any level of participation.

If you want to ask me about the project directly, please email me at create@jessicasingerman.com. I’d love to hear from you.

If you love this project, but can’t swing a contribution at the moment, please SHARE this project with everyone you know who’d love it.

Private viewing of the “Shape of the Sky” at Salem College

My exhibit of paintings “The Shape of the Sky” is on view at the Elberson Fine Arts Center at Salem College in Winston-Salem, NC until October 5th. So if you weren’t able to make it to the opening last Friday, there’s still time to see the show! Watch the video above for a tour of the exhibit.

In these paintings, I continue to explore the intersection of the outdoor experience and painting. The forces of nature are an ongoing source of inspiration in my life and work, and in these paintings, I aim to share that with you and to inspire you.

While the work is on display, you can still purchase the paintings online. They will be marked as sold in the exhibit and shipped the week of October 15th. Visit the Gallery Shop to bring these paintings into your life.

I donate 5% of the sales of my works to Yadkin Riverkeeper, a local non-profit that “seeks to respect, protect and improve the Yadkin Pee Dee River Basin through education, advocacy and action.”

Know someone who’d like these paintings? Please share this post!

“The Shape of the Sky” opens this week

My exhibit “The Shape of the Sky” is on view at the Velma Mason Davis Gallery, Elberson Fine Arts Center, at Salem College from August 27th – October 5th.

The opening reception is on Friday September 7th, from 6:00-8:00 PM. This event is free to the public.

My “Pilot Mountain” and “Forces of Nature” series will be on view. I am inspired by the poetry of nature: color and light in the landscape, seasons, and the passing of time. The series of paintings “Forces of Nature” is inspired by the strength of nature and the power of the outdoors. “Pilot Mountain” is a series of works inspired by a snowy winter hike in Pilot Mountain State Park in North Carolina.

While the work is on display, you can still purchase them online! They will be marked as sold in the exhibit and shipped the week of October 15th. Follow the Shop link buy these paintings.

I donate 5% of the sales of my works to Yadkin Riverkeeper, a local non-profit that “seeks to respect, protect and improve the Yadkin Pee Dee River Basin through education, advocacy and action.”

The Shape of the Sky

“The Shape of the Sky” will be on view in the Elberson Fine Arts Center at Salem College in Winston-Salem, NC from August 27th to October 5th.The opening reception takes place on Friday September 7th, from 6:00-8:00 PM and is free and open to the public.

This video shows part of the process of working on the painting “Pilot Mountain 4.” Read on for the press release.

The Shape of the Sky: Recent paintings by Jessica Singerman at the Velma Mason Davis Gallery, Elberson Fine Arts Center, Salem College, August 27 – October 5, 2018

Award-winning painter and recipient of a 2018 Duke Energy Regional Artist Project Grant, Jessica Singerman announces her exhibit of paintings entitled THE SHAPE OF THE SKY, opening at the Velma Mason Davis Gallery, Elberson Fine Arts Center, Salem College on August 27th and continuing through October 5th. The opening reception takes place on Friday September 7th, from 6:00-8:00 PM.

Singerman is inspired by the poetry of nature: color and light in the landscape, seasons, and the passing of time. The series of paintings “Forces of Nature” is inspired by the strength of nature and the power of the outdoors. “Pilot Mountain” is a series of works inspired by a snowy winter hike in Pilot Mountain State Park in North Carolina.

Says Singerman of her “Pilot Mountain” paintings, “During our hike I was struck by the contrast between the stark lines of the trees against the softer shapes of rock, patches of snow and sky, so I took some photos as we walked. These photos were a jumping off point for this series, and I enjoyed the challenge of finding a balance between representation and abstraction.”

Of her “Forces of Nature” paintings, Singerman says, “I love the outdoors and am fascinated with the natural world and the intricacies of life. I hope these paintings will inspire you and bring you deep contentment.”

Arts writer Michael Solender wrote in Lake Norman Magazine, “Singerman’s approach to her work and her outlook on life brings a broad perspective. Her work offers explosions of color, form and light conjuring imagery of motion and depth.”

About the artist: Born in Bangor, Maine in 1980, Jessica Singerman lived alternatively in France and the United States during her early life. Singerman earned her BA with Highest Honors in 2002 from the College of William & Mary, Virginia, and her Masters of Fine Arts in 2004 from the University of Delaware while on a fellowship. Her watercolors are the subject of a book published in 2017, Little Watercolor Squares, and her award-winning paintings and drawings are exhibited and collected internationally.

In previous lives, Singerman taught yoga and worked as a guide leading epic bicycle tours all over Europe, Central America, and Australia. She is obsessed with bikes, loves to ride, sometimes races, and lives and works in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

VELMA MASON DAVIS GALLERY, ELBERSON FINE ARTS CENTER, SALEM COLLEGE, including THE SHAPE OF THE SKY, by Jessica Singerman, August 27 – October 5. Opening reception Friday September 7, 6:00 – 8:00 PM.

601 S. Church Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101, www.salem.edu/about/fine-arts-center, 336.721.2600

Five percent of the sales of Singerman’s works are donated to Yadkin Riverkeeper, a local non-profit that “seeks to respect, protect and improve the Yadkin Pee Dee River Basin through education, advocacy and action.”

Working on a painting

This is a timelapse video of me working on an abstract painting. This is a painting I have worked on for 5 years on and off, and I had just scraped off some paint before going back into it. It was nearly finished by the end of the video.

Pennsylvania Dutch Country Paintings

I spent a week in July in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Each morning, I woke up early and painted the landscape of fields, farmland, forests, earth, and sky.

Although you may be more familiar with my abstract work, painting and drawing from life are an important part of my practice as an artist. Observing the effects of light on color and shape, and translating that into paint keeps my eyes and hand sharp. These images work themselves into my abstract pieces as well – a memory of a particular color or shadow or shape – all these elements play into my abstract paintings.

Each 7.5 x 10.75 inch painting is oil on wood panel and is available for $550 including shipping to the US. $650 includes shipping anywhere else in the world.

If you’d like to purchase one of these paintings for your collection or to share with a friend, click on the images below to visit the gallery shop.

“Wednesday Morning, Valley Road”, oil on wood panel, 7.5 x 10.75 inches, 2018 – This painting is SOLD
“Tuesday Morning, Roush Road”, oil on wood panel, 7.5 x 10.75 inches, 2018
“Thursday Morning, Beagle Road”, oil on wood panel, 7.5 x 10.75 inches, 2018
“Sunday Morning, Beagle Road”, oil on wood panel, 7.5 x 10.75 inches, 2018
“Monday Morning, Roush Road”, oil on wood panel, 7.5 x 10.75 inches, 2018
“Saturday Morning, Meadow Lane”, oil on wood panel, 7.5 x 10.75 inches, 2018
“Friday Morning, Deodate and Old Hershey”, oil on wood panel, 7.5 x 10.75 inches, 2018

 

 

Packing my plein air painting kit

Enjoy this little stop motion video showing all the materials I bring with me for oil painting on the road. This is my pochade box, or a minimalist’s kit for painting when traveling.

Want to learn more about how to make a pochade box? Check out this blog post where I share a brief history of these little portable painting kits, how I made mine, and what I take with me on the road.

Scroll to top